Civitas Building health dept workers to get a ‘safer home’_1

The national department of health could soon have a new home as plans to relocate staff from the current hazardous building in Pretoria were finally under way, following several months of chaos. The Civitas Building in the city centre, which also housed the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and owned by the department of public works, was in a deteriorating state, with parts of the ceiling collapsing, damaged sections of the building cordoned off from staff members and containing harmful black dust. Due to the poor condition of the state-of-the-art 29-storey building, staff only worked three hours a day from 8am...
The national department of health could soon have a new home as plans to relocate staff from the current hazardous building in Pretoria were finally under way, following several months of chaos.

The Civitas Building in the city centre, which also housed the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and owned by the department of public works, was in a deteriorating state, with parts of the ceiling collapsing, damaged sections of the building cordoned off from staff members and containing harmful black dust.

Due to the poor condition of the state-of-the-art 29-storey building, staff only worked three hours a day from 8am to 11am.

For the past two years, staff held protests and demonstrations in the hope that they would be relocated to a safer building. Their wish was finally coming true.

Following a meeting between Mkhize and Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille in December, the minister met with his deputy, health department’s director-general and senior management where it was decided that the relocation plan be implemented.

“This is due to the fact that some of the department of health staff have not been present at work for the full working hours. This has been caused by concerns raised regarding the state of the building,” said health spokesperson Popo Maja.

The department had since established an emergency relocation task team which was made up of union representatives from the Public Servants Association, National Education, the Health and Allied Workers’ Union and members of the health department.

The task team identified two suitable buildings to relocate to.

But before that happens, Mkhize ordered that public works give a time-frame for the completion of the relocation process.

Employees should also be informed of the interim arrangement which includes them returning to work full working hours until the relocation is complete.

Mkhize said it was important for his department to lead in employee wellness and occupational safety.

“The matter of relocating the department is critically urgent. People whom we serve depend on us for their health needs. I am making an appeal to public servants to heed the call to serve, as we will heed the call to protect them from a harmful working environment,” said the minister.

rorisangk@citizen.co.za

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